Request for proposals for Dassault Atlantic 1 replacement due on 26 July

Alenia and EADS are continuing to discuss their joint participation in the German/Italian Dassault Atlantic 1 maritime patrol aircraft replacement programme ahead of a July deadline for responses to a request for proposals (RFPs).

The pair along with Boeing, L-3 Communications and Lockheed Martin are due to answer the RFP for 18 to 24 aircraft on 26 July - two months later than planned. Alenia/EADS and Boeing will offer jet-powered platforms, while L-3 and Lockheed Martin are proposing rebuilt and new Lockheed Martin P-3 Orions respectively. A selection is planned in January, with service entry in 2007.

EADS Military Aircraft senior vice-president programmes, Erwin Obermeier says the company is preparing a bid based on the Airbus A320 or A321.

Obermeier says: "It is still to be decided whether we bid with Alenia, although we still have the requirement to do so." He adds: "There is no decision for Alenia to join the Airbus platform. They're doing non-airframe specific work at the moment."

A memorandum of understanding between the two companies is still in place, however, and "personally I'm aiming for the team to stick together," adds Obermeier.

EADS and Alenia are evaluating potential proposals and have asked European companies for systems information, including Alenia sister company Galileo Avionics. US systems will be looked at "to see which is most efficient", says Obermeier. It is understood from an EADS source, however, that EADS Military Aircraft has not requested information from EADS Casa on its Fully Integrated Tactical System, which is in development for a Spanish P-3 upgrade and the United Arab Emirates.

Alenia senior vice-president Carmelo Cosentino says: "We [Alenia and EADS] were invited to bid together. If we decide to bid as a prime contractor we must bid together."

Cosentino says Alenia is also considering the Boeing 737. "Both manufacturers want military applications and both propose credible platforms and we are working with EADS to evaluate the best solution, but this does not imply that we exchange all results." Alenia is working with Boeing on a tanker-transport version of the Boeing 767 and the US manufacturer is proposing a 737-based Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) for the US Navy's P-3 replacement programme, the largest on-going maritime aircraft competition.

Cosentino says Alenia and Italian industry do not want just aerostructures work on the winning aircraft, but also mission system involvement. "Galileo, Alenia and others have already worked on a credible aircraft, the ATR 42MP."

Source: Flight International